Assessment can be summed up as the process of answering four question sets:
- What do you want students to know? What do you want students to be able to do?
- How will you find out whether they know what you want them to know? How will you find out whether they have the skills you intend them to have?
- How well do they know what you want them to know? To what extent do they have the skills you intend them to have?
- Now that you have the answers to the above questions, what actions should you take to improve student learning even further?
Here’s a more complete way of describing the assessment process:
- What student learning (knowledge and skills) do we want to assess?
- What do we hope to find out?
- What specific information is needed?
- What is the best assessment method/demonstration of learning? How will we gather the information we need?
- How will we make sense of our findings?
- How will we make sure that we are comparing different cases appropriately? (e.g., through the use of rubrics)
- How can/should our findings be used to bring about improved student learning?
The Assessment Loop
Some people use the phrase “the assessment cycle” or “the assessment loop.” Assessment is a continuous process; once a particular set of questions is answered and changes in curriculum or pedagogy are implemented, the professor or department or interdisciplinary program starts the assessment process over, either by continuing the same assessment project on the next cycle or by picking different student outcomes for the next round of assessment.